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NZ Super Fund chief investment officer departs

The Guardians of NZ Superannuation Fund has confirmed the chief investment officer is departing just one week after it announced the appointment of a new chief executive.

Chief investment officer Stephen Gilmore will leave the NZ Super Fund at the end of June 2024 to take up the role of chief investment officer at CalPERS, the largest pension plan in the United States with US$494 billion under management.

Acting chief executive Paula Steed said the fund is sorry to lose Gilmore but acknowledged this would be an "exceptional career opportunity" for him.

"Stephen has made a significant contribution to the sophistication of the NZ Super Fund since he joined us in early 2019, a period during which the fund has grown by more than $30 billion, nearly doubling in size," Steed said.

"He has championed the role of new technology in enabling better investment decision-making, brought innovative and disciplined thinking to our investment processes and, as chair of our responsible investment strategy refresh, has been key to our shift towards a sustainable investment approach.

"These enduring changes have helped to position us well to manage the ongoing growth in the fund."

Gilmore said he was appreciative of his time with the fund and looks forward to celebrating its future success.

"It has been a great privilege and pleasure to have been able to work with such a talented and dedicated team over the past five years," he said.

"The Guardians of NZ Superannuation has an inspirational purpose and is, in many respects, world leading."

Prior to joining the NZ Super Fund in 2019 Gilmore was the chief investment strategist at Future Fund from 2009 to 2018. He has also worked at Morgan Stanley and the International Monetary Fund.

Gilmore will replace Nicole Musicco who left CalPERS after just 18 months in the role citing family reasons.

Prior to Musicco, the role was held by Ben Meng who resigned following an investigation into some of the investments made during his tenure. Meng was found to have invested CalPERS funds into several private equity vehicles in which he had personal holdings.

Gilmore's appointment followed an "exhaustive, worldwide search" by CalPERS for a new investment chief, seeking "a deeply skilled leader."

CalPERS chief executive Marcie Frost said: "Stephen has worked in very public roles during his career for organizations where transparency and resiliency are essential."

"He brings not only a wealth of investing knowledge to the job, but he also has the temperament to understand the needs of our members and public sector employers who depend on CalPERS to be a steady, long-term partner."

Gilmore's resignation from the Guardians comes just one week after the super fund announced Jo Townsend would be stepping into the top job this month.

"I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the Guardians. The NZ Super Fund is known and respected globally as a high-performing institutional investor," Townsend said when her appointment was announced.

"The Guardians' purpose - sustainable investment delivering strong returns for all New Zealanders - sums up the importance of the fund to the country."

Read more: NZ Super FundBen MengGuardians of NZ Superannuation FundJo TownsendNicole MusiccoPaula SteedStephen Gilmore